What do you do when you have two powerhouses meeting in the French Open semifinals and not in the finals? Grab some popcorn and a comfortable seat, because this is going to be one heck of a tennis match! As soon as the draws were out, we all saw the the clash that would later come to fruition…Nadal, the undisputed “King of Clay” facing off the against one of the few who have beaten the kind the red clay (and who lived to tell the tale), Novak Djokovic. This is about as tasty of a tennis match as they come.
These two players met last year at the French Open, but met in the finals where Novak failed to capitalize after wining the third set in 2012; allowing Nadal to capture his seventh title at Roland Garros. This all came the year after Novak 2.0 showed up to the tour, where he did manage to have a winning record on clay against the Spaniard (beating Rafa in straights in Madrid and Rome). But this is 2013, what happened in the past doesn’t really matter right now, all that matters is the French Open semifinal on Friday.
Nadal nervous about his French Open semifinal against Djokovic
“I’m going to be nervous,” Nadal said to French Press. “If not, go home and do another thing. Because if you are not nervous to play the semifinals against the best player of the world, it’s because you are not enjoying or you don’t feel passion for this game. I would prefer an easier opponent,” Nadal said. “But it’s Novak, and I have to accept that it’s going to be a very tough match.”
I get what he’s saying, I would be nervous too if I were going up against a guy who’s beat me on my most successful surface. Though from what I’ve seen, Rafalito has been confident in his game during the second week, demolishing Stan Wawrinka during the quarters. He was, at times, a little shaky with losing a few sets in the early stages, but he’s rounded up just fine. If this is any indication of where he is physically, I say it’s pretty neutral.
Djokovic full of Serbian confidence for his French Open semifinal
“I know what it takes to win against him,” Djokovic said. “I have a good game for him because my style is to be aggressive, but I can also defend well and have that transition game,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to be confident and step into the court with self-belief that I can win. That is something that can maybe give me that mental edge when I step onto the court, knowing I already won against him on clay this season,” Djokovic said. “Knowing I can do it, even though not many players in the last 10 years have won against him on this surface, and he’s been the most dominant player in the history of this sport on this surface. It’s incredible what he does on this surface.’’
If you do remember, Novak took care of Nadal en route to his first title in Monte Carlo just a couple of weeks ago, and in straight sets no less. His win in MC must have given him some crazy confidence because the Serb has only dropped one set the entire tournament. Surely he got a little too comfortable for a quick minute and served a couple of loose games.
French Open Semifinal more important than the final?
I have to say it, the French Open semifinal is by far the most important match of the tournament. If Novak capitalizes on his current tennis ability, he is going to give Rafa a hard time if he plans on reaching the finals.
This match, in itself, is basically a final. Unfortunately, there is no title or trophy after this match, it’s just a French Open Semifinal, nothing more and nothing less. But if Djokovic manages to pull the upset (a la Söderling in ’09), he’s surely going to win the whole darn thing. If he does not and Nadal does work the Serb into tennis submission, then he will most likely win his eighth French Open title. We shall see.
Oh yeah and Tsonga and Ferrer are also playing their French Open Semifinal.